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MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

CyberAlert -- 07/24/1997 -- Morning Blackout

Morning Blackout; 2 of 3 Skip Immunity; Newt's "Asinine" Idea

The MRC's new fax reports, Media Reality Check: A Daily Report on the Media's Coverage of the Campaign Finance Scandal Hearings, can now be read from the MRC home page or directly from: http://mediaresearch.org/archive/realitycheck/archive1997.asp


  1. Another morning, another morning of Cunanan, not fundraising.
  2. The Senate committee voted to grant immunity to five, but only the CBS Evening News reported it. ABC ran three stories on Andrew Cunanan, NBC aired four.
  3. The Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau Chief argued that NEA funding should be increased. Have rich Hollywood celebrities fund an arts foundation? "Asinine," declared Alec Baldwin.

1) The morning shows have acted as if there are no hearings or developments on the fundraising front. As noted in yesterday's CyberAlert, the Tuesday night broadcast network shows ignored the debate over immunity for the Buddhist monks and Senator Fred Thompson's declaration that he no longer had "confidence" in the "Justice Department's ability to carry out a credible investigation." (CNN's The World Today, MRC analyst Clay Waters observed, did air a full story Tuesday night.)

The morning show producers agreed with the news judgment of their nighttime colleagues. For the third morning this week, the Wednesday, July 23 Today, Good Morning America and This Morning all failed to mention any aspect of the fundraising scandal. CBS This Morning hasn't mentioned the hearings or fundraising since July 9 -- that's two weeks and numerous revelations ago. On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Charles Gibson led a discussion among Cokie Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Bill Kristol. But, as MRC analyst Gene Eliasen pointed out, they never moved beyond talking about turmoil in the House Republican leadership.


2) The CBS morning team does not find the fundraising investigation worth reporting, but Wednesday night of the broadcast networks only the CBS Evening News ran aired a story.

On Wednesday the Senate committee, including all the Democrats but Joseph Lieberman, voted to counter the Justice Department's wishes and grant immunity to four Buddhist monks and a Charlie Trie associate who donated $12,000 while earning $22,000 annually at her job. In the afternoon the committee called the lawyer for the Hong Kong businessman who loaned/gave money to the RNC-affiliated National Policy Forum.

CBS put a priority on informing viewers about the day's developments, placing the story #2 in the newscast. Dan Rather intoned:

"The Senate hearings on campaign fundraising shifted gears today to focus on possible, if not probable, abuses by Republicans. And then there's the matter of obtaining witnesses for the hearings. On that score, the State Department revealed that Secretary Albright now has asked China to help locate Democratic fundraiser, Charlie Trie. The Administration hasn't been nearly as accommodating as far as some other witnesses are concerned, so the Republicans took some action of their own today, as CBS's Bob Schieffer reports now from Capitol Hill."

Bob Schieffer, as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson, began:

"In a clear rebuff to the Justice Department, the committee voted immunity from future prosecution to a group of Buddhist nuns, who attended that now infamous fundraiser featuring the Vice President at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. The committee decided it was the only way to find out what really happened at the event, where it turned out questionable campaign contributions from unknown sources were funneled to Democratic coffers. Justice Department officials argued the immunity grants might interfere with future prosecutions, but Republicans suspect Justice is just trying to spare the Vice President future embarrassment, and they're hot about it."

Following soundbites from Senators Sam Brownback and Fred Thompson, Schieffer soon shifted to Republican transgressions:

"As for the nuns, whatever they know, Chairman Thompson now hopes they can tell it all to the committee next week. In the meantime, committee Democrats called in the lawyer of a Hong Kong businessman, hoping to show the Republican Party had been getting questionable campaign donations, too."

Sen. Carl Levin: "It's so obvious that the money, which it got, originated in Hong Kong, and under the law, that kind of source is not permitted."

Schieffer concluded: "Republicans claim the donation was legal because it was made through the Hong Kong company's U.S. subsidiary, but former Republican Party Chairman Haley Barbour will be questioned further about it tomorrow. Bob Schieffer, CBS News, at the Capitol."

I bet that will perk up ABC and NBC's interest.

-- ABC's World News Tonight hasn't mentioned fundraising since last Friday. Wednesday night they didn't bother with the developments CBS found newsworthy. Instead, ABC led with three stories in a row on the search for Andrew Cunanan. The rest of the show:

  1. Swiss bankers releasing list of dormant accounts
  2. Update on immigrant smuggling/slave labor ring in New York
  3. Clinton nominating Gov. Bill Weld for ambassadorship to Mexico, despite opposition from Senator Helms
  4. Benefits of folic acid in fighting heart disease, followed by interview segment w with Dr. Tim Johnson
  5. Concerns about the stock market running too high
  6. Flooding in Eastern Europe
  7. Flooding in Charlotte, North Carolina
  8. Reopening of Cyprus Freeway in Oakland after 1989 earthquake
  9. Exhibit in New York City of pieces by artists created with one continuous line

-- NBC Nightly News also couldn't find time for fundraising, but did manage time for four Cunanan stories and a piece on another murder -- JonBenet Ramsey. The line-up for the July 23 edition:

  1. Live report on police surrounding Miami houseboat
  2. Sightings of Cunanan across the country
  3. JonBenet Ramsey's father released report from investigator he hired. Killer suffered from "stress."
  4. Controversy over applying the death penalty in Virginia on convicted murderer Joseph O'Dell. Questions about blood evidence. Bob Faw concluded: "A case which O'Dell's defenders say will show whether Virginia cares more about another notch in its belt, or the truth. Bob Faw, NBC News, Richmond, Virginia." (At 9pm O'Dell received a lethal injection.)
  5. Aftermath of Hurricane Danny
  6. More live video of Miami houseboat and update on police cordoning off area
  7. "In Depth" on fear in San Diego that Cunanan will come home for gay festival this weekend
  8. Computer model shows 100,000 troops in Iraq could have been exposed to chemicals
  9. "Crusading television station" in Peru afraid government will shut it down
  10. Swiss bankers release names on dormant accounts
  11. Plan to save bison in Yellowstone Park

3) The National Endowment for the Arts can depend on some enthusiastic backers in the media and Hollywood. A Washington bureau chief thinks NEA funding should be increased while a movie star used a TV news magazine piece to impugn NEA critics.

MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught a bit of big government advocacy from James Warren, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune. On the July 13 Capital Gang Warren argued:

"I think you can make a very strong case for dramatically increasing the amount of money they get. If you leave it to the free market, you're not going to necessarily be enriching the imagination sensibilities. They are folks in the uptown area of Chicago who get taught classical music precisely because of NEA grants, which are then able to parlay into private contributions. There are renaissance choral music groups in rural Gales Burring. In the South Bronx, one of the most squalid areas of the country, there is a Bronx Museum of Art, which is there precisely because they get about ten percent of their budget from the NEA and have been able to parlay that with the cachet that corporate America respects of the NEA's dollars."

Two days later Dateline NBC's Josh Mankiewicz explored the liberal vs. conservative debate over the NEA. Here's an except from the July 15 story:

Mankiewicz: "What about some Hollywood money? If big name celebrities want to support the NEA, House Speaker Gingrich says they should start their own endowment."

Gingrich: "If the people who come to lobby us, who are famous and rich, would simply dedicate one percent of their gross income to an American endowment for the arts, they would fund a bigger system than the National Endowment for Arts."

Alec Baldwin: "That's one of the most asinine suggestions I've ever heard in my life."

Mankiewicz: "Baldwin says Hollywood stars already donate plenty to the arts and pay plenty in taxes. All of this, he says, isn't about the politics of art; it's about the art of politics."

Baldwin: "We live in a country, now, where the leadership, the political leadership in this country is saying, 'Look, don't look into your hearts, don't look into your souls, look into your wallets!'"

Aren't Baldwin and his wealthy Hollywood buddies looking into everyone's wallets? They financially back Democrats who refuse to cut taxes, especially on rich people like them. Maybe if the liberals they supported would get out of the way, everyone could get a tax cut and then Baldwin would send less to Washington and could implement Newt's idea.

-- Brent Baker